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Ukraine: lack of decisive 'western' support
The Ukraine-Aid Reality Gap
Chartbook #197, by Adam Tooze, Feb. 25
There is a chronic and yawning gap between our collective awareness of major social, environmental, political and economic problems, the capacious way in which we address those problems in policy discourse and the resources that are actually mobilized to meet the challenges we can clearly see ahead of us.
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A case in point is the self-congratulation that surrounds European and American aid for Ukraine which is the subject of my column in the FT this weekend.
[ The west’s limited support for Ukraine fails to measure up
by Adam Tooze, Financial Times, Feb. 24, 2023
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Western governments may sincerely support a Ukrainian victory, but they are failing to match means and ends. Reservations about specific weapons systems and the limits of western stockpiles play a part. But neither factor should inhibit money from flowing more freely. Rather than strategic objections or principled political opposition, it is complacency, a lack of imagination, small-minded budgetary thinking and procedural wrangling that are driving a wedge between intention and action.
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After one year of war what stands out is less western solidarity than this gap between declared intention and real delivery. The lack of decisive western support means that the balance on the battlefield and on Ukraine’s home front remains agonisingly precarious. Through their modest intervention, western powers and Europe in particular willingly forfeit any chance of decisively influencing events — so much so that one suspects that they do not believe in their ability to shape conflicts as complex and violent as that in Ukraine.
They also, however, lack the courage to admit as much. So they profess bold goals but fail to deliver means. The result is hypocrisy and self-inflicted impotence on a historic scale.
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The point of my op-ed is not that Europe and the United States should deliver vastly greater aid to Ukraine. One may want to make the case for that, but that is a separate issue. The point of my op-ed is that the Kiel data reveal a vast gap between the declared intentions of the United States and Europe in backing Ukraine and what they are actually delivering.
So what explains this shortfall? This raises the questions with which we began this newsletter. Are the Western powers cynical in promising to stand by Ukraine? Are they implicitly steering towards a stalemate? Do they actually favor a Ukrainian victory, but incompetence and “friction” causes them to fall short in matching the necessary means to the desired ends? Or are they struggling with a “reality gap” - failing to grasp the scale of what might be needed and what on other occasions and for other purposes they have been able to deliver? Personally, I think it is a mixture of all three.
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